With the coronavirus still a concern, there are a few hazards to keep your eye on and questions to ask yourself so you enjoy your holidays.
2020 presents unique challenges to the traditional holiday gathering, with COVID-19 continuing to loom as an omnipresent threat. Many families are having to make adjustments to ensure they stay safe while also enjoying their favorite traditions. There’s a lot to take into consideration before making a commitment, and we’ve compiled a list of questions and points to think about as you finalize your plans.
What we ask you to keep in mind is that these considerations are only necessary for as long as the pandemic continues. Ultimately deciding to forego holiday gatherings for the 2020 season may be upsetting, but it might prove the choice that ensures their availability for next year’s celebrations.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Your health and safety, as well as the health and safety of your family, is always paramount. As you consider your options for this year’s festivities, we recommend going over the following questions during the decision-making process. While not exhaustive or necessarily pertinent to every family’s circumstances, it still serves as a viable starting point.
- Can you and your family isolate for two weeks beforehand? (We have a blog about safe quarantine protocols here.)
- How long will the event be?
- Can you leave early?
- Can you drop in for only one part of the evening (appetizers, drinks, dessert, etc.)?
- Are any family members in a high-risk group?
- How large is the gathering?
- Has the event space been sanitized?
- Will cleaning supplies such as soap, warm water, disinfectant wipes, and hand sanitizer be available?
- Has everyone in your family been quarantining and taking necessary precautions?
- Can the event be held outside? If not, what’s the ventilation like indoors?
- Will everyone be masking and practicing social distancing?
- Will you need to travel? If so, how? Will there be safe accommodations available?
- Will this be the last time you see some family members (ie. the elderly, the terminally ill, etc.)?
- Is an online video meeting possible?
- What’s the coronavirus situation like in your current city? What about the city you’re considering visiting?
- Have event attendees had their flu shots? Has your family had their flu shots? COVID isn’t the only concern this year.
With these questions as a foundation, you have the tools to create your own list of questions unique to your family’s needs.
Should you decide that you and your family will be in attendance at a holiday celebration, it is highly advisable to take the necessary COVID safety precautions. We recommend taking all of the following steps to reduce the risk of spreading:
- Wear a mask over your nose and mouth when not eating or drinking. Make sure it is properly fitted with these instructions from the CDC.
- Try to maintain a distance of at least six feet between yourself and other event attendees.
- Wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds after touching doorknobs, counters, serving utensils, and other communal spaces and objects.
- If you can’t make it to a sink to wash your hands, for example at an outdoor event, then use hand sanitizer.
- Cough and sneeze away from people. Use and immediately discard tissues. Wash your hands after.
- If the event host does not have disinfectant wipes available, bring your own and disinfect any communal surfaces you may touch.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth, and other mucus membranes with unwashed hands.
- Isolate yourself and your family for two weeks after the event and monitor for symptoms. Go to the doctor immediately if you or anyone in your household begins to experience symptoms as outlined by the CDC.
For further information about the myths and facts of COVID-19, please refer to the CDC, the World Health Organization, and Mayo Clinic.
If travel is required to attend a holiday gathering, there may be a few more steps involved to ensure your safety and the safety of your family. Depending on your circumstances, we encourage you to consider the following while forming your plans:
- Research the COVID status of your home and your destination.
- Drive, if possible, to avoid airport crowds.
- If driving is not an option, pick unpopular flight times and travel days to reduce the amount of people you encounter at the airport.
- Pick an airline that staunchly enforces masking, sanitizing, and—whenever possible—distancing protocols.
- Stay in a hotel or motel rather than with family or friends. Choose accommodations that regularly sanitize communal property and linens.
- Avoid the continental breakfast at hotels.
If you’d like to know more about travel safety in the time of COVID-19, the CDC has an extensive guide on everything to keep in mind as the holidays approach.
Your Holiday Health and Safety Resource
The staff at Patients ER wishes you the safest, healthiest holiday season, and we want you to make well-informed decisions regarding your plans. We’re available to answer any questions you may have about what to consider and how to keep yourself and your loved ones protected. Feel free to contact us to discuss any healthcare topic on your mind right now.